Cherokee Nation Administration Liaison Pat Gwin uses a Global Positioning System device to map river cane near Greasy, Okla., in southern Adair County. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

River cane in CN being mapped, studied

University of Arkansas graduate student and Cherokee Nation citizen Roger Cain studies a dead stalk of river cane that likely died during a time of sub-freezing weather or a drought the area recently experienced. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Healthy stalks of river cane stand near Sallisaw Creek in southern Adair County. A project to map and study river cane in the Cherokee Nation is under way. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Research shows that Cherokee people living in the southeast frequently used river cane for items such as sleeping mats, food, flutes, blowguns, baskets and cover for homes. The basket on the left, made by Cherokee artist Shawna Cain, is made from river cane. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
University of Arkansas graduate student and Cherokee Nation citizen Roger Cain studies a dead stalk of river cane that likely died during a time of sub-freezing weather or a drought the area recently experienced. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/24/2013 08:31 AM
GREASY, Okla. – A project to map and study river cane in the Cherokee Nation is under way as two researchers complete work in Adair County.

In this southern Adair County community, near the Sallisaw Creek, University of Arkansas graduate student and CN citizen Roger Cain, as well as CN Administration Liaison Pat Gwin, have been mapping river cane in a densely wooded area.

“It’s a project we started this past year to start identifying and mapping river cane,” Cain, who is finishing a master’s degree in ethno-botany with an emphasis on river cane, said.

He said after the river cane fields are identified and mapped, a usage policy would be developed to preserve the plant and its ecosystems for future generations.

Research has found river cane riparian zones significantly reduce nutrient loads into area streams, creeks and rivers, Cain said. This research has implications for the controversial issue of local poultry farmers allegedly polluting the Illinois River with runoff containing poultry waste.

Gwin said once the river cane data is compiled, the CN would likely have the largest database in Oklahoma and possibly the entire United States.

“It’s a very important plant. I think it has a lot to offer for both the cultural preservation of the Cherokee, and I think it also has a lot to offer scientifically in the future. This is groundbreaking research,” Gwin said. “A misconception with cane is its name. It’s called river cane. I don’t think that’s a very good name. I think it would be far better referred to as flood plain cane or bamboo.”

He said Cain’s research includes gathering soil profiles to show where cane is growing and where the CN may be able to artificially introduce and successfully grow it. Gwin said 99 percent of the canebrakes the two men are finding are not flourishing due to past land management practices and other reasons.

“Estimates are, by specialists in the field of ethno-botany and ethno-biology, is that 2 percent of the population of river cane is left in the whole country,” Cain said.

That 98 percent decline has occurred since Europeans made contact with Native people in North America about 500 years ago, he said. Large areas of canebrakes were once abundant along river bottoms in the southeastern United States. Canebrakes are now considered critically endangered ecosystems because of agriculture, grazing, fire suppression and urbanization.

Gwin said canebrakes would likely lesson the affects of flooding in low-lying areas if they still existed next to streams and rivers in urban areas.

Research shows that Cherokee people living in the southeast frequently used river cane for sleeping mats, food, flutes, blowguns, baskets and cover for homes.

“It was our plastic. When archeologists go into prehistoric sites, be it Cherokee or any Southeastern woodland (tribe), the plants they find more predominately than anything else is river cane and hickory,” Cain said.

Severe winter weather and drought conditions from recent years have decimated area cane fields. Dead stalks littered the cane fields visited by Cain and Gwin as they mapped the fields near Sallisaw Creek.

After those major kills of the plant, Cain said he became concerned there was not much cane left and what was left needed protection, so he successfully lobbied the CN Environmental Protection Commission to place the plant on the tribe’s Culturally Protected Species List.

Cain said he and Gwin have covered 13,000 acres so far and have found only 50 total acres of cane growing on CN land in Adair County.

Gwin uses a Global Positioning System device and Geographic Information Systems to map the canebrakes. So far, only tribal lands in Adair County have been mapped for river cane, but Gwin said research and mapping would done on tribal lands in other counties soon.

“It’s been very educational for me. I’ve learned more about cane in the last couple of months than I have in my entire life,” Gwin said. “The goal is we will survey every inch of tribal trust property and determine the presence of cane and the cane brakes. For the most part we have found it in smaller brakes.”

He added that the stalks studied so far range from 2 feet tall to 20 feet tall located in small canebrakes.

“We certainly don’t have the very large breaks that most people think of when they look at the large flood plains of the Baron Fork (Creek) and the Illinois River. We don’t have any like that that we’ve seen yet,” Gwin said.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/10/2016 08:15 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – Representatives from the Community and Cultural Outreach’s History and Preservation Office are presenting a Cherokee Nation History & Humanities course at the John F. Henderson Public Library. The course will be available from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through March 16. The seven-lesson course covers pre-European contact through modern-day history, culture and life ways of the Cherokee people. Students are invited to learn more about the history of the Cherokees by viewing select texts, historic documents and short videos that highlight traditions, social life, triumphs and tragedies. “I think it’s important that Cherokee citizens know about our Cherokee history, our culture, our life ways, and what makes us distinctly Cherokee people, and how we’re different from other (tribal) nations,” said Catherine Foreman Gray, CN History and Preservation officer, who is helping teach the course. She said beyond her and other History and Preservation officers teaching the course, there would be guest presenters during the seven-week course. These “subject experts” will discuss topics related to Cherokee history, government and culture. The goal is to give students a comprehensive and multi-perspective introduction to the history and humanities of the CN, its citizens and culture. It is also the goal to instill a greater understanding and appreciation of the unique Cherokee culture and traditions. No materials are needed for the course, but students are encouraged to bring writing utensils and paper. A recommended reading list is included at the end of each lesson for students interested in learning more. CN citizen, Stilwell resident and retired schoolteacher Susie Thompson said she was interested in Cherokee history and culture and that the course piqued her interest. “I’d like to learn more about the ancient Cherokee history and also the modern history, and any archeological digs and things of that nature,” Thompson said. She said she also attended the course to reinforce her knowledge of Cherokee history and culture. “I know I’ve heard many of the things before, but it’s not really stuck in my mind like I want it to be,” she said. Thompson is also a member of the Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association based in nearby Stilwell. She said the group is developing history lessons that include Cherokee history and culture to share with classrooms in the county, so what she learns in the class would benefit that project.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/08/2016 10:30 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. – This year is the centennial of the birth of the late Cherokee artist Lloyd Kiva New, and three Santa Fe arts institutions are celebrating this anniversary in style. Locally, New, who died in 2002, is known as the Institute of American Indian Art’s first artistic director. Yet nationally, Native people refer to him as the “Godfather of Native Fashion.” The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the New Mexico Museum of Art will each present an exhibition in 2016 focusing on New’s contributions to contemporary Native culture. Additionally, the three institutions are planning a symposium, multiple lectures, panel discussions, fashion show, gala and 100th birthday party. For the past two years, the museums have worked to honor New’s iconic status with items on view from their respective holdings, from his widow Aysen New’s collection and items rarely on public display from important private collections. Opening first is the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s “Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design and Influence,” which draws on three themes of his legacy. The art aspect includes paintings by New from his personal collection, completed between 1938-95, many never before shown in a museum or gallery. The design portion presents the artist as an innovator of Native Modernism through fashion and textile design in an interpretive reproduction of the Kiva Studio – New’s successful 1950s showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. The influence aspect features more than 40 printed textiles created by IAIA students during the 1960s and 1970s under New’s artistic direction – drawn from the permanent collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Additionally, patrons will be able to “create” designs based on New’s work through an interactive display. IAIA officials said they hope to illuminate New’s artistic abilities, successful fashion career and profound impact on contemporary Native art. A soft opening for the exhibition was scheduled for Jan. 22 and will run through July 31. Lloyd Kiva New: Art will remain open until Sept. 1. The exhibit’s official opening and reception will be held Feb. 18 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s career retrospective “A New Century: The Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd ‘Kiva’ New,” is slated for Feb. 14 to Dec. 30. The exhibit is a look into New’s life from his beginnings in Oklahoma to the burgeoning days at IAIA. In between he strides the decks of the USS Sanborn during World War II and the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago. Opening successive and successful boutiques and craft centers in the gleaming post-war enclave of Scottsdale. New was a pioneer in the worlds of fashion, entrepreneurship and Native art instruction. His vision of cultural studies and creative arts education continues to influence and inspire. Through personal recollections, photos, archival documents and objects pour la couture, the exhibit reviews the life of this American Indian visionary. The New Mexico Museum of Art’s exhibit “Finding a Contemporary Voice: The Legacy of Lloyd Kiva New and IAIA,” slated for May 20 to Oct. 10, showcases artwork by former and present IAIA faculty and alumni demonstrating the contribution these artists have made to the larger field of contemporary art. Taking a group portrait of IAIA faculty and the legacy of the institution’s first art director as starting points, this exhibition includes work by IAIA faculty and alumni from the 1960s to the present. In his teaching, New encouraged looking at innovative techniques and forms as a path to creating contemporary Indian art. Additionally, IAIA and MIAC will jointly present a symposium, “The Lloyd Kiva New Centennial Convocation” in October. The convocation will be an interdisciplinary look at the contemporary Native art movement. Other activities planned include fashion shows, panel discussions, lectures, a Veterans Day event and additional special programming in conjunction with Indian Market in August. IAIA will also offer the class “Lloyd Kiva New and the Contemporary Native Art Movement” in the Spring 2016 semester, taught by IAIA archivist Ryan Flahive and guest lecturers. New earned a degree in art education from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1938. He taught painting at the Phoenix Indian School until enlisting in the Navy in 1941. Upon returning to Phoenix after World War II, he became a charter member of the Arizona Craftsmen cooperative, a group of artists who helped develop Scottsdale into a western center of handcrafted arts. New took the trade name “Kiva” in 1946, and the Kiva Studio built an affluent clientele and earned national acclaim for his handbags, clothing and printed textiles throughout the 1950s. In 1962, New changed his career path by serving as the IAIA’s first art director until 1967, then as the school’s president until 1978. In 1988, he returned to serve as interim president, finally becoming president emeritus. Although officially retired, New continued to be active in the Native arts community, serving on the Indian Arts and Crafts board, as well as the boards of national museums, and continued writing and speaking worldwide until his death in 2002. He had a broad, humanistic approach to the arts, stressing creative links to the traditional arts but urging students not to be bound by them and to reject the stereotypical notions of American Indian art and culture.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/03/2016 08:15 AM
CALERA, Okla. – When it comes to expressing herself through art, Cherokee Nation citizen Hailey Bishop has been doing so since she was 2. In the past 16 years she’s created art and won awards for it. The 18-year-old said she first started with coloring books. That’s when her parents noticed her talent. “I was like 2 and I’d be coloring in my high chair and my parents would notice a whole different change. They were like ‘this isn’t normal.’ So they started buying me little paint kits and 64 packs of crayons,” she said. She started taking art seriously at age 7, entering her art in the Bryan County Fair. She said from then she branched out by attending art shows and finding her passion of creating portraits. She said it’s “intriguing” to capture people’s faces. “That’s the thing that I’ve always been interested in since I was very little. That’s what I see. I like nature too, but just peoples faces, it’s very intriguing,” Bishop said. “Most people think that they’re the hardest to draw, but to me they’re the funnest and always the easiest.” Bishop said she enjoys drawing faces because it feels as if she’s connecting with the person. “There’s something about faces when I draw them. It’s almost like you know the person, especially if it’s a very old photo of Native Americans or just any person. It’s almost like you’re getting to know the person,” she said. Bishop also said she creates art in various media. “I paint. I’m trying to venture out into oil painting. Oil painting is kind of hard to do. You have to get things done really quick because it dries so slow,” she said. “I’m venturing out into clay. I’ve tried to mix mediums together with say leaves on canvases, really just out-of-the-box type things. I’ve painted on all types of surfaces. My go-to is in drawing. I really like charcoal. Charcoal is very messy, but it’s a challenging medium.” As for her inspirations, they vary by piece and by how she’s feeling. “I really love to feed off my inspirations of what God might give me, and usually it’s nature and people. Sometime it can just be something I’m just really happy about or I’m just really moved by. Most of my emotions drive my artwork,” she said. “Sometimes nothing really inspires me for some pieces. Sometimes I just want to do it…It’s like what I feel at the time and that’s really it.” Bishop said she won big at the 2015 Southeastern Art Show and Market in Sulphur even though she missed the deadline but was allowed to enter. She said by entering late she had limited time to create. “I had a week and a half to work on my work. That was the most challenging thing I have ever done.” She entered four pieces and they all placed. “I didn’t expect that I would win anything. I was just like ‘I’m just going to try.’ I usually shoot for the best, which would be best of show, which I didn’t get but I’m totally OK with that. I wasn’t expecting to get anything,” she said. “It was a really awesome experience. It’s just another year that you get these opportunities and more experience. Now that I’m going into the adult category I’m really stepping up my game, and it’s just a whole different world.” She won “Best of Two-Dimensional Art” for her drawing “2 Corinthians 4:7” in the youth category. “It just happened to be the one that I was least expecting to place that won the whole shebang,” she said. She also won three youth juror awards for her drawings “Song of Solomon 4:7,” “Study of Native American Woman by Manuel Librodo” and her painting “Find Peace.” She earned nearly $1,200 in award money and nearly another $1,200 from selling her artwork. Bishop said it’s important to have found her calling in art and believes young people should also find something that drives them. “Know what drives you and stick with those things because if you don’t have a purpose behind anything that you want to do how are you going to stick with it? How are you going to achieve more things?” she said. “Especially for young people, I think it’s important for them to have something to grasp on to, especially in our society today.” Bishop said she enjoys being an artist and is grateful for the opportunities art has provided her. “The artist that I am is just, it’s a crazy thing to really describe, but if I wasn’t an artist I think that I wouldn’t know how to express myself,” she said. “I love the fact that being an artist affects my whole person. It affects how I see everything. It affects what my morals are. It affects many aspects in my daily life.” Bishop attends Calera High School and is set to graduate this year. She was recently accepted into Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and plans to major in graphic design. “I’ve decided to venture out and major in graphic design because of the work that I’m doing at my local vo-tech down here. I’m in a graphic design class now, so I have a lot of opportunities to already get hands-on experience,” she said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/28/2016 08:15 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – A free Cherokee history and humanities course begins Feb. 3 and will run until March 6 at the John F. Henderson Public Library located at 116 North Williams St. The course, offered by the Cherokee Nation, is open to the public and will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. The course will allow participants interested in Cherokee history and culture to get an overview of the Nation’s changes from pre-contact with European settlers through Oklahoma statehood. Upon completion of the 21-hour course, participants will receive a certificate from the tribe. “The courses and the lecture series we’ve done in the past have all been well received by our students,” said instructor Roy Hamilton. “We try to limit the amount of lecturing that takes place by adding in some video and film, demonstrations, and bringing in guest speakers. It is important for the Cherokee people, and the public in general, to understand that the Cherokee Nation possesses a unique cultural identity.” For more information or to pre-register, call Hamilton at 918-453-5210 or email <a href="mailto: roy-hamilton@cherokee.org">roy-hamilton@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/27/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Echota Ground will host a benefit stomp dance at 7 p.m. until midnight on Feb. 6 at the Tahlequah Community Building. According to a Facebook post about the event, all ceremonial grounds are welcome and the event will include raffles, cakewalks and auctions. Concession will also be available. All proceeds will go to benefit improvements to the Echota Ground.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
01/22/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Matthew Anderson, a cultural specialist at the Spider Gallery, is offering daily lunchtime cultural presentation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the gallery. “And it may not just be a cultural presentation there may actually be sketching, painting, sculpture, but there’s also a desire for finger weaving and twining,” Anderson said. “Those demonstrations I’ll be able to stop and do those at any time.” He said he’s had people, including Cherokee language teachers and enrichment program participants, who wanted to go over some activities that have been covered in cultural education classes. “And so we are available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to do that the rest of January and February at least,” he said. Other presentations might include cordage from plant material, which will also include going over what plants are available locally and their uses. “There are lunch specials through the Kawi Café and those daily specials are usually ready very quickly. If you just have a short lunch break, you can order one of the daily specials and also increase your knowledge of Cherokee art and culture by either just viewing the demonstration or actually participating in the instruction,” Anderson said. All the short lunchtime courses are available through the art center in a more in-depth style. For more information visit cherokeeartscenter.com and find the Spider Gallery link on that page or call 918-453-5728. Anderson said he could also be reached by email at <a href="mailto: matthew-anderson@cherokee.org">matthew-anderson@cherokee.org</a> or on Facebook.